Adoption can have varying effects on children
Question: Are adopted children more likely to be rebellious than children born to biological parents? If so, are there any steps I can take to prevent or ease the conflict? My husband and I are thinking about adopting a toddler and the question has me worried.
Dobson: Every child is different and adopted kids are no exception. They come in all sorts of packages.
Some boys and girls who were abused or unloved prior to the adoption will react to those painful experiences in some way ... usually negatively. Others, even those who were not mistreated, will struggle with identity problems and wonder why their “real” mothers and fathers didn’t want them. They may be driven to find their biological parents during or after adolescence to learn more about their heritage and families of origin.
I must emphasize, however, that many adopted kids do not go through any of these personal crises. They take root where they are replanted and never give a thought to the questions that trouble some of their peers. As with so many other behavioral issues, the critical factors are the particular temperament of the child and how he or she is handled by the parents.
I hope you won’t be reluctant to adopt that child because some special problems might — but probably won’t — develop. Every child has his or her own particular challenges. Every child can be difficult to raise. Every child requires all the creative energy and talent a parent can muster. But every child is also worth the effort, and there is no higher calling than to do that job excellently.
Let me add one more thought. I knew a man and woman who had waited for years to adopt a baby. When a baby girl was finally made available to them, they were anxious to know if she was healthy and of good heritage. They asked if her biological parents had used drugs, how tall they were, whether or not they had attended college, etc.
Then, the father told me later, he realized what he and his wife were doing: They were approaching the adoption of this baby much like they would have bought a used car. They were kicking the tires and testing the engine. But then they thought, “What in the world are we doing? That little girl is a human being with an eternal soul. We have been given the opportunity to mold and shape her as a child of God, and here we are demanding that she be a high quality product.” They repented of their inappropriate attitudes and embraced that child in love.
Adopted children, like all children, are a blessing from God, and we are privileged indeed to be granted the honor of raising one of his precious kids.
Question: At what age should discipline begin?
Dobson: There should be no physical punishment for a child younger than 15 to 18 months, regardless of the circumstances. An infant is incapable of comprehending his or her “offense” or associating it with the resulting consequences.
Some parents do not agree and will swat a baby for wiggling while being diapered or for crying in the midnight hours. This is a terrible mis- take. Other parents will shake a child violently when they are frustrated or irritated by incessant crying. Let me warn those mothers and fathers of the dangers of that punishing response: Shaking an infant can cause serious neurological damage as the brain is slammed against the skull. Do not risk any kind of injury with a baby.
Especially during the first year, a youngster needs to be held, loved and calmed by a soothing human voice. He should be fed when hungry and kept clean and dry and warm. The foundation for emotional and physical health is laid during this six-month period, which should be characterized by security, affection and warmth.